Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Will a fertilization program keep my lawn green all season long?

A: Some of our irrigated clients are green all season long. However, in our area lawns usually experience a period of dormancy during the hot, dry summer months. Even irrigated lawns show signs of stress during these periods. Disease and fungus thrive during periods of stress and can give any lawn a brown look especially when the lawn is cut short.

Q: How often should I cut my grass?

A: Top growth is affected by many factors but in general my guidelines below can be followed during a typical season in the Hudson Valley. We normally get 60% of our top growth for the season over a 6 week period in the spring. During this period turf should be cut more often (every 4-5 days from late April through early June or even twice a week if possible). As the hot dry weather approaches turf should be cut weekly and as lawns go dormant mowing can sometimes be skipped for several weeks. We usually experience another surge of top growth in September where lawns can be cut approximately every 5 days. I like to mow my lawn weekly October through November to keep it looking sharp in the fall as lawns really take on a deep green look during this period when they are properly fed and maintained. If we don't have early snow I try to give my lawn a final cut in late December.

Q: At what height should I mow my lawn?

A: Measure from your garage floor to the cutting surface of your blades to determine mowing height. Bumping a block of wood against the cutting edge and measuring it is an easy way to get an accurate number.  Mower settings vary and don’t always reflect inches accurately. Be sure your mower is off and spark plug is unplugged before measuring! I never have to tell clients they are leaving their grass too long. Usually it's too short! I used to mow commercially and mow my own lawn now with a 61inch commercial mower. My grass looks best following the general pattern below. When choosing your own mowing heights keep these factors in mind. Taller turf that is mowed regularly is thicker and has a deeper root system. Leaving turf a little taller can mask the yellow or brown appearance of turf when fungus begins to thrive during stressful or prolonged wet/humid periods. If you cut on the shorter side you will be removing the greener less infected blades of turf.
In general these are my mowing heights but they are not set in stone:

April - My first cut is at 2.75 inches as an early spring cleanup before top growth really starts. I work my way up to 3.25 inches.

May - I start as low as 3.25 and work my way up to 4 inches by the end of May. By cheating the lawn up a little with each cut top growth is easier to keep up with and the lawn usually looks phenomenal in May. If conditions favor growth I even make several cuts at 4.25 inches.

June through August - I make a judgment call each week based on weather conditions and predictions but in general I cut between 3.5 and 4 inches during these months. If we are getting rain or if my lawn were irrigated I would mow at 4 inches to mask potential fungus problems. If we are dry or going dormant I mow a little shorter which is counterintuitive according to textbooks but in all practicality when the lawn is going dormant the shorter cut doesn't hurt and keeps it from looking so raggedy.

September - The high temperatures and humidity of summer usually subside and we have cool mornings with dew on the grass. I drop down to the 3.75 range as there tends to be less fungus.

October through November - The green in the grass starts to deepen and I usually drop down to 3.5 inches while still maintaining that look. Sometimes I pick up leaves if they are heavy but in general I prefer to cut two or three times in different directions mulching them in.

December - I cut two or three times in December when weather permits and have even done my final cut in January. With my last few cuts of the year I work my way down (in .25 inch increments) to 3 or even 2.75 inches. If we have a prolonged snow cover and snow mold attacks a short lawn in the late fall will look less messy in the spring and then growth can pop through a little easier in the spring. If I'm not able to cut in December my lawn is left at my November height of 3.5 inches for the winter.

Q: Should I use a grass catcher?

A: For the last 30 years I have been mowing without grass catchers thus recycling clippings, organic matter and nutrients. Clippings and mulched up leaves are great for turf and they can help improve soil structure over many years. When leaves or top growth get heavy I mow twice in a perpendicular pattern for the best cut and to mulch most efficiently. With all that said my lawn is on the gold program and this year I purchased a grass catcher sort of by default. I love it! I have a convenient spot to dump the clippings which can have an offensive smell in the hot weather. I am also often able to mow by going over the lawn once rather than my usual two directions. The biggest plus is that the clippings aren't tracked into the house especially on wet days by my daughter and two dogs. In conclusion, grass catcher or no grass catcher can be left to personal preference. You can have an incredible lawn either way with proper fertilization and frequent mowing at proper heights.

Q: If I use a grass catcher can I put the clippings in my garden?

A: Avoid this when possible especially after our pesticide applications. The more time you give our products to breakdown the safer they will be. Regularly putting grass clippings into a vegetable garden would certainly increase the chance of pesticide exposure.

Q: How often should I water my lawn?

A: Weather conditions will dictate this. As a rule of thumb turf needs an inch of water a week. Long deep watering is better than short frequent watering. Try to water heavy and give your lawn one day to dry out to minimize fungus problems and to allow root systems to deepen. Short frequent watering can create a high root system and a thatch problem. Windy days and days with low humidity can dry out lawns as well as hot humid days of summer.

Q: Should I install a sprinkler system?

A: This is a question that needs to be handled on a case by case basis. Irrigation can make a huge difference in turf quality during dry periods or dry seasons. However, I have seen systems put in when the money would have been better spent on first bringing in topsoil or thinning out shady areas by removing or pruning trees. All turf prefers sun. A shade seed tolerates shade a little better but even a shade seed prefers sun. Topsoil and sunlight should be prioritized and irrigation should follow when it's in the budget.